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The Living Hand

 , August 04, 2013

The Living Hand* – Medical Humanities Section of JGIM Web

The living hand of the physician. The hand that heals, that caresses and comforts, that steadies over the years with growing confidence, that cuts and mends, that forms the link between doctor and patient. There are many uses of the hand in medicine, but we are proposing another use: the hand that writes. Whether a poem, a short story, or a quick note, writing allows us to synthesize and organize the many scattered thoughts, emotions, and experiences that circulate loosely through our minds. Writing allows us to etch our ethereal thoughts onto paper with all-too-real ink. It is often said that “writing allows the writer to find out what he believes.” True, but it is much more than that: writing forces the writer to confront what he believes. There is something about seeing a thought written in hard ink that cements it in reality, forcing the writer to consider the source and meaning, unable to erase what his eyes have seen. In addition to all of this… writing is fun.

*This title is inspired by the poem “This Living Hand” by John Keats


“The Living Hand” humanities section for residents and medical students to submit poetry or personal narrative prose for publication on the web page. In “The Living Hand” humanities section, we plan to publish of either poetry or prose written by a medical student or resident every few weeks, thus giving plenty of opportunities for fresh voices to share their stories. We are looking for writing that is true to who you are. Share your lessons with us by showing through your stories and poems rather than telling. We encourage all of you to capture the thoughts that are bouncing around in your head, and submit to “The Living Hand” for publication. The white space awaits your words.

Submission Guidelines

All submissions must be devoid of patient identifiers per HIPAA standards (see below), or must have written permission from the patient involved in the writing.

Please send submissions and correspondence to the editors at
In your email, indicate the following:
Type of work you are submitting (poetry or prose)
Title of the work
Word count
Brief bio (<100 words) of the author, including position (medical student or resident) and institution

Up to four submissions per author. Please do not submit any new articles until you have heard back from the editors on previously submitted pieces. This may take up to two months.
Articles should be less than 2000 words, submitted in Microsoft Word or Open Office document.
Poems should be less than 50 lines, submitted in Microsoft Word or Open Office document.
Naming convention: For the article, "Generic" by Dr. Jones, save as follows: Generic_Jones.doc

Review process

All submissions will be reviewed by the section editor. The editor will review contributions for originality, style, and content. The editor will respond in a timely fashion with either an acceptance, conditional acceptance, request for revision and resubmission, or rejection.

Patient consent/confidentiality

Our confidentiality policy is based on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Please refer to this document with regards to any questions about patient confidentiality: . As a rule, authors must protect the confidentiality of all individuals whose personal details may be revealed without their consent.


Authors retain the copyright to materials they submit to JGIM - Web Edition. However, authors must wait until their work has been published on JGIM - Web Edition prior to submitting elsewhere. Also, we request that authors contact us if a piece that we previously published is accepted in another journal, and we ask that you reference the Journal of General Internal Medicine - Web Edition as the original publisher in subsequent publications of the article.

Simultaneous Submissions

Simultaneous submissions are allowed, however, we request that you let us know immediately if your work has been accepted elsewhere.

Additional Questions

For additional questions, contact the deputy web editor (medical humanities) 

Bryan Sisk
Deputy Web Editor, Humanities

BRYAN SISK is a graduating medical student from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University (CCLCM). He is pursuing a career in academic pediatrics. His undergraduate training was in biochemistry at the University of Missouri—Columbia. He is an avid musician and writer, and is the author of the book "A Lasting Effect: Reflections on Music and Medicine." Additionally, he was the founder and editor of “Stethos: Medical Humanities Journal of CCLCM”. His prose and poetry has been published in several journals, including The Examined Life, Hektoen International, Yale Journal for the Humanities in Medicine, Burning Word, Texas Heart Institute Journal – “Peabody’s Corner”, Journal of General Internal Medicine, Miser Magazine, and Stethos.